BMW boss [ read CEO ] Herr Panke recently has mentioned in an interview that they [ read the BMW managers ] naturally are annoyed with each single comparative test in which the Seven comes off as loser against its competitors. Such defeats are cause for internal discussion about it, he said. Yeah, with certainty the assembly rooms in Munich look very grubby because of a lack of any occasion for a cleaner to do his job there because the BMW managers sit in them, without a chance to get out, and have to argue about what they have done, how they can change it and what to do in the future

And, they really should do it! Once, BMWs were fitted with the best, means most ergonomic cockpits, an example for the whole branch and now, they have replaced them by a heavy wooden control cabinet with an integrated monitor controlled by a button in paddle-style. What a shame! Moreover, the urge for being different blinded the bosses in Munich suchlike that they didn't anticipate that Chris Bangle's confusing design language won't be accepted in Germany, in Europe, in this class. What a pity!

Besides that, and less noted by public, also what the Seven's exterior design expresses has changed. The former model was simple and elegant, almost sporty but the new one has another appearance, it looks more imposing and heavy. And, the car should intentionally look more representative - an optical feature that the S-class lacks in that intensity. Nice idea but there's a question that should be asked in the assembly rooms in Munich: Does it really strike the image and character of the make BMW?

The heads in Ingolstadt will be happy about that at any rate. Now, the A8 is the ultimate sporty luxury salon! Despite Jaguar's aluminium bodied XJ? No besides it! Finally both won't directly compete against each other! The Jag is much too traditional, too emotional, too organically shaped, much too British to be an option to the cool and clinical sublime German masterwork of engineering - with or without the Jaguar's aircraft aluminium technology.

Most serious competitor to the A8 is the S-class now, the comparative test has turned this out. Not only because of its, now available, all wheel transmission and its German origin, but also because of its air spring technology that provides a sportier chassis, apart from the new dynamic design language of Mercedes Benz cars. The high-end Benz's body looks sportier than any S-class, and even 7-series, before - nothing to say of how perfect the next generation of Stuttgart's big S will be. But if you don't like the Seven's trunk lid you better shouldn't wait for the next S-class because it gets such a thing too.

The bottom line is: the playing cards are reshuffled in the high-end segment. Audi plays still the sporty card and sets the standards for driver oriented luxury cars now. The Mercedes is just a bit too aged to beat the brand new A8 - but the new S-class comes soon. BMW's Seven is the option for all who want something different, more progressive, extraordinary - an offer for all who hate the conventionality of the make Mercedes Benz and the exterior design of the A8. And, in the moment it seems as if the Phaeton is going to be accepted as an adequate luxury saloon for Germany's high society or those who want to belong to it. Though it is still an outsider yet, we are really curious about a comparison of the new S-class vs. Phaeton vs. revised Seven vs. A8. So it appears in a German motoring magazine we will let you know the results.

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